Planning for Your Best Health in 2020
Welcome to 2020. A new year and new - or renewed - resolutions. Whether you're determined to manage weight, reduce stress, strengthen relationships, or volunteer your services, the first step in choosing what to tackle is understanding your values and priorities. Visualize how the change would look for you.
Ask yourself: If I make this change . . .
- What positive effects will I experience: (example, if you choose to focus on volunteer work, you are likely to create new friendships; if you volunteer as a family, you'll strengthen family ties).
- What resources or support do I need?
- How will I feel emotionally? Physically? Spiritually?
Changing behavior is tricky: it takes time, patience, good planning, and the willingness to accept setbacks even as you move forward. It takes at least 30 days to establish a new habit and become comfortable with your new routine, time requirements and available resources. Plan for success and be realistic about outcomes by anticipating how you'll handle challenges that pop up, whether its time constraints, external obligations, or lack of support from family and friends.
The following strategies can help you succeed.
Know Your Why. Why do you want to make this change? Motivation is an important predictor of behavior and, ultimately, success, so be honest about your why. How will success feel to you? Connecting emotion to your why strengthens your willingness to stick to the goal when things get challenging. I'll feel less stress because I will have more space around the house if I clean out the rooms and closets. Write down your 'why' and post it somewhere visible.
Set Goals and Have a Plan. Anything you want to achieve isn't about finding the time, it's about making the time - and that choice is always in your power. If you're unsure about forming goals and plan, ask your holistic health practitioner for assistance. Depending on what you are striving to change, you might set weekly or monthly goals.
Pull Together Resources. Sometimes the people we typically count are less than supportive of our goals, wondering how your commitment to change will affect them or your relationship. If you can't find support in your immediate circle of influence, seek out a like-minded group, an accountability buddy, a life coach or counselor. Your health practitioner can assist with resources and make suggestions for keeping you accountable for your progress.
Celebrate Success! In your plan, note the markers at which you will celebrate success. Rewards need not be expensive, just meaningful for you. Keep in mind that some rewards might be a natural consequence of your lifestyle change: A smile from someone you have helped through volunteer work, donating clothes that no longer fit after weight loss, or having room for a new desk in a cleared out space.
Wild about Winter Greens!
If you want to liven up your salads, get wild about winter greens! Here's a list of cold-weather hardy greens that are packed with nutrition, flavor, and color:
Belgian Endive. Add kick to your salad with chopped-up endive leaves.Skip the crackers for your hummus or cheese spread by using a sturdy endive leave, raw or baked. Endive provides potassium, fiber, and vitamins B, C and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, iron and folate.
Beet Greens. With a mild taste similar to kale, beet greens should not be tossed when you chop off the amethyst bulb at the end. The greens provide an abundance of nutrients including vitamins A and C. Look for firm, fresh greens still attached to the root. Beet greens can be enjoyed raw in a salad, sautéed, braised or steamed.
Kohlrabi. A cousin to broccoli, kohlrabi (aka The German Turnip) has purple, pale green, and white varieties. Slightly sweeter than broccoli, it's high in potassium, vitamin B6, manganese, and folate. Use shredded or chopped, add to soups and salads; eat raw or sautéed.
Parsley. Beyond garnish, it's a green worthy of being added to your salad blends. Use parsley in the final steps when preparing soups, sauces, salad dressing, rice or pasta. A cup of parsley provides iron, potassium, vitamins A, C, K and folate.
Radicchio. Abundant in vitamin K and potassium, radicchio is one of the prettiest winter veggies. It adds color and texture to salads and entrees. It's also a great green for digestive health. Don't confuse radicchio with red cabbage; radicchio is a member of the chicory family and has a distinctive, unique flavor that will bring your meals to life.
Watercress. A lovely addition to any salad, watercress is a great source of nutrition, containing fiber, antioxidants and minerals. It contains a high amount of Vitamins K, A and C. One of the more delicate winter greens, it makes for a lovely garnish to any dish.
These powerhouse veggies are loaded with antioxidants, which are associated with reduced risk for chronic disease. Check with your health practitioner for more healthy dietary advice during the winter months.
Ashwagandha: Herbal Support for Stressful Times
For more than 4,000 years Ashwagandha has been a staple botanical treatment in Ayurvedic Medicine. Ashwagandha is known as an adaptogenic herb: one that helps the body adapt to physical and emotional stress. It's also regarded as a strengthening tonic to support the immune system and promote healing during and after illness.
Though Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has potent effects on its own - including mild sedative and calming effects that can help with nervous tension and insomnia - it's often used in conjunction with other herbs carefully selected for each individual. Botanical scientists and Ayurvedic practitioners believe the synergistic effects produced when other herbs are used in combination with Ashwagandha would not occur with a single herb. Research is examining these effects as well as the role Ashwagandha plays in decreasing inflammation and treating certain forms of dementia. Ashwagandha also has been used for some forms of arthritis, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Various forms of ashwagandha (tincture, extract, tea, liquid capsules) are selected depending on the health concern to be treated.
Ashwagandha, a small, woody shrub with tiny garnet berries, is a member of the nightshade family of herbs. If there is an allergy to other nightshade plants, then Ashwagandha may not be suitable for you. Ashwagandha can interact with other herbs and prescription medication; it is important to consult with a holistic physician who has training in botanical pharmacology before taking this herb.
Siberian Ginseng: Botanical Remedy for Immune & Stress Support
Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) is a botanical medicine distantly related to the more well-known Panax Ginseng. For a time, it was mistakenly believed to have the same properties as Panax Ginseng and promoted it as a less-expensive substitute.
Like Ashwaganda, Siberian Ginseng is an adaptogen. It has most commonly been used to support the immune system and adrenal glands when the body is under stress (such as after surgery, or during emotionally challenging times). A recent area of research on Siberian Ginseng is its use for upper respiratory infection. In studies to date, Siberian Ginseng has been used in combination with other botanicals, so more research is needed to determine how much of the healing process can be attributed to the ginseng.
In China and Russia, Siberian Ginseng is used to stimulate the immune system, for prevention of infectious diseases, and to enhance stamina and performance. Some research shows that it may help strengthen the immune system.
It's always best to obtain a Ginseng supplement from your holistic practitioners. This will ensure that you have a high-quality product that is the proper variety for your particular health concerns.